REGINA – Downtown business owners who deal with people repeatedly causing trouble on their property are relieved by a new initiative being enforced by the Regina Police Service.
The Trespass to Property Initiative would allow businesses to ban someone who is intoxicated, harassing customers or shoplifting; if they return, police could then write a $250 ticket.
“We’ve had a couple of people wander through with the intention of stealing … or maybe people under the influence who aren’t actually interested in shopping,” said Caitlyn Dixon, a sales associate at Stella & Sway Boutique.
A report before the Regina Police Commission says officers responded to more than 5,600 reports of “unwanted guests” downtown over the last two years.
Over the last few months, downtown Regina businesses have been armed with ban forms, where they can formally document people who are causing problems and have been asked to leave. If they continue to return, the business owners report it to the police.
“We want businesses to be working proactively to prevent this from happening,” said Supt. Corey Zaharuk. “That also requires them … to firmly let the person causing problems for them know their conduct is not acceptable or they need to leave the premises.”
Previously, Zaharuk says, businesses had no recourse to prevent a banned patron from returning.
“Once someone shoplifts, we don’t want them back in the store again,” said Susan Redekop, who owns Madame Yes. “Basically, they’ve lost their privilege to come in the store once they’ve done that.”
Previously, Regina Police used the city’s Tag Day Bylaw to deal with aggressive panhandlers, but it was removed in 2009 because similar legislation had been struck down as unconstitutional. Until 2012, the Assault by Trespass law allowed officers to arrest anyone who refused to leave private property after being asked to do so.
Zaharuk says the Trespass to Property initiative is different because it sets “reasonable behavioural expectations and boundaries” for people at or near a business.
“The business owner is going to have to demonstrate how that may be impeding their business and I suspect it’s usually going to involve that individual on their property,” he said.
So far, more than a dozen tickets have been handed out.